What Is Domain Name and How Does Domain Name System (DNS) Work.


“Domain Name is the name given for any website” (ex: thehappylearning.com). “Domain Name System (DNS) is like a phone directory which stores all the domain names across the web“. This are very crisp and simple definitions for Domain Name and Domain Name System respectively. Let’s try to understand them in detail.

Domain Name

Domain is the address for any website on Internet. It is associated with the IP address of a server. This server has the webpages which a user wants to access. A user can purchase the domain name from several vendors like Godaddy, Hostgator.

Let’s say you have hosted your website on Internet (to know what is web hosting click here). That means you own a property on Internet. Now compare this with a real estate property. When you buy a real estate property, it is identified using some address. So the same goes with web hosting and the domain name. Domain name is the address assigned to your web hosting.

Domain Name System

Domain Name system is the directory where all the domain names and their associated IP addresses are stored. What does this exactly mean? When we say a website is hosted that means the website is stored on a server. This server is publicly accessible. And to access the server, you should have the IP address of the server. The IP address is the physical address of the server. It is a numeric value which a computer can understand. But you cannot remember all the IP addresses of all the website out there. So, domain name is a simple human understandable name which a human can remember. And this domain name is associated with the IP address of specific server. So, DNS is a repository which keeps track of all the domain names and their associated IP addresses.

Domain Name System works in following sequence:



  1. A user types a domain name of a specific website into internet browser. Let’s say thehappylearning.com.
  2. Now the internet browser passes this information to the Internet Service Provider.
  3. Internet Service Provider looks for this domain on the DNS Server 1.
    • If the DNS Server 1 has the record for this domain name, then the it sends back the IP address related for the requested domain name.
    • After this your Internet browser downloads the pages you requested from the server where the requested website is hosted.
    • If requested domain record is found on the DNS server 1, that means the DNS record was cached on the Server 1.
  4. If the requested domain record is not found on the DNS server 1, the request is forwarded till the central DNS repository which in turn has all the records available on the internet.
  5. If the record is not available on the central DNS repository, then your browser shows the DNS error. Which means their is no record for the requested domain name.

So this is how the DNS system works.


Domain name: Domain name is the name assigned to your website or IP address of your web server.

Domain name system: Domain Name System is the central repository which keeps track of all the domain names and their associated IP addresses.

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